Friday, March 29, 2013

2013's Best Bobblehead Giveaways

When you think about baseball it is almost impossible to not be transported back to the time when you were a little boy or girl lugging around a big bag of peanuts & begging your dad for another box of Cracker Jacks to get that decoder ring that will finally reveal the answer to the scrambled word.  Over the last 15 years there has been a new (old) candidate throwing its name in the ring to be as synonymous with baseball as singing "Take Me Out the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch.   The Bobblehead.   

Every major league team has a bobblehead night once or twice a year at the very least.   Those range from honoring the hot new player who has us dreaming of baseball’s first 50/50 season to remembering the legends of our youth hitting 3 HRs in the World Series or taking Al Downing deep to surpass an icon on top of the all-time Home Run list.

Of course they don't always have to be reminders of a greater time or fuel for our imagination of the future of our favorite team.  Sometimes they are weird, goofy or questionable, but they are always fun. 

As a collector of baseball memorabilia I always like to check out what I can obtain for my collection that is no longer just mine, but also something I can share with my 4 year old son.

This season throughout both the Major leagues and the Minor leagues there is no shortage of amusing, interesting and even ill-conceived bobblehead give-a- ways.    I spent some time going through promotional give away lists for not just MLB Teams, but also every Low-A, High-A, AA and AAA team in MiLB.   I’m going to list out my Top 11 Bobblehead giveaways for the 2013 season.   So in no particular order, here we go.

Oakland Athletics - Saturday April 27th: 1973 Reggie Jackson Bobblehead (First 10,000 Fans)
On the night where the Athletics are honoring their 1973 World Series winning team they are giving away this iconic Reggie Jackson Bobblehead

Richmond Flying Squirrels -  Saturday May 17th: Shaka Smart Bobblehead (First 2000 Fans 15 & Older)
Okay, I admit that part of the reason I added this bobblehead to the list was just so I could type out Richmond Flying Squirrels.  Still, one of the great things about minor league baseball is how connected they are to their communities.   The community of Richmond, Virginia has been invigorated by VCU since their improbable run to the Final Four in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  Since then, Shaka Smart has reportedly turned down bigger programs like Minnesota and just this week the UCLA Bruins.   Proving that bobblehead promotions have no sports segregation, the Squirrels will be giving these out and Coach Smart himself will be appearing at the game.   Anyone can go get another boring Derek Jeter bobblehead.  How many of you have Shaka Smart?

Louisville Bats - Saturday April 6th: Corky Miller Bobblehead (First 2500 Fans) 
I've always been a fan of Corky Abraham Philip Miller.   I guess it was the fact that he is named Corky and I was a fan of Life Goes On back in the day.  It sure as hell isn't his 10 year MLB career that resulted in an amazing line of .188/.270/.300 with 11 HR and 49 RBI.   Yep, I'm pretty sure it's because every time I hear his name I start singing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and dancing around my house with a silly grin thinking of the crush I had on Kelly Martin.  Enough of my adolescent affections though.  Just look at he picture - it's clear why this one made the list.

If you need a tad more convincing. Listen to this while staring at the picture.   If you're still unsure then you're dead to me.

Portland Sea Dogs - Tuesday May 6th: Kevin Millar Bobblehead (First 1000 Fans)
When I first saw this I thought they might be having "Men In Their 40's With Frosted Tips" night at Hadlock Field, but apparently not.  We're just being given this gem for no special occasion.   

All joking aside I've always liked Millar as a player and I like him even more in his analyst role on MLB Network.   He's fills the goofy John Kruk roll from ESPN, but he actually has a good baseball mind, is funny and most importantly doesn't make me want to drive to Bristol and punch him in the face.   

Tampa Bay Rays - Sunday April 21st: Astro Bobblehead (Kids 14 & Under While Supplies Last)
When you're the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner you get special perks.  David Price decided that one of his is having a bobblehead made of his dog and giving out to kids at the Rays game.   Suck it, Justin Verlander!

This is one of many reasons why the Rays are one of the best organizations in baseball. For all of you people in the Tampa area who aren't going to Rays game you're missing out. They put a great product out on that deplorable field. 

This isn't even their best giveaway of the year.  That award goes to the creepy, yet amazing Joe Maddon Gnome.  

Fort Myers Miracle - Saturday June 29th: Craig Sager Bobblehead
Speaking of creepy!   Sports reporter Craig Sager, known for his clown like attire, will be in Fort Myers where he was formerly a sports anchor as they give out what I hope is an absolutely hideous bobblehead.

Akron Aeros - Saturday May 4: Univerity of Akron Jim Tressel Bobblehead
As good as the Shaka Smart bobblehead is, this one is a bit of a head-scratcher for me.   Jim Tressel, most famous for his days winning National Championships for The Ohio State University, is now "Vice President of Strategic Engagement" (wait, what?)  for the University of Akron.  You probably remember that the reason he is no longer the Head Coach for one of America's most attractive coaching destinations isn't just so he could move onto such a prestigious job as University of Akron's VP of SE. (again, what?)  He was suspended by OSU for failing to notify the school of NCAA violations involving OSU.   The NCAA accused Tressel of withholding information and lying to keep Buckeyes players game eligible.   He later admitted that he lied about the violations because he didn't want to impact the FBI's investigation of a local Tattoo shop owner accused of drug trafficking and trading tattoos to players for their championship rings, jerseys and other football related awards - which of course is an NCAA violation.   Tressel resigned as OSU's head football coach in May of 2011 and Sports Illustrated revealed that as many as 28 players were involved and Tressel potentially covered this up and at best didn't report it.   As a result, he essentially exiled himself to non-coaching position for the University of Akron (No offense to fans of the Kangaroos!)   

Now that you're caught up, it just seems like an odd guy to honor with a bobblehead.  As a collector - odd is exactly what I want!

Pensacola Blue Wahoos - Friday April 5th: Billy Hamilton Bobblelegs
You read that right.  This is not a Bobblehead.  It's a Bobblelegs!  Honoring Billy Hamilton breaking Vince Coleman's minor league stolen base record by swiping 147 bags last year, the Billy Hamilton Bobblelegs is sure to be a popular item on eBay for fantasy baseball owners as they turned down offers of Billy Hamilton for major league All-Stars in hopes that he joins other high number minor league speeders who went onto major league greatness such as Esix Sneed, Allen Lewis, Donell Nixon and of course Larry Lintz.  Um, I mean...Vince Coleman & Rickey Henderson.  

Frederick Keys - Friday August 23rd: Tim Kurkjian Bobblehead (First 1000 Fans)
Let's be honest.  There isn't a lot to like about ESPN's baseball crew at this point.   They are drab, annoying and they seem to be reading two week old updates from Rotowire for their "breaking news".    

That said there is still one gem and one reason while I'll decided not to watch a replay of Clubhouse Confidential or Intentional Talk rather than stumble onto Baseball Tonight and that's Tim Kurkjian.   The guy is like the  Rain Man of baseball statistics and I really dig how much he loves the game.  The only thing that could make a Timmah! bobblehead better is if when you flicked it's head to make it bobble it yells out something like "In 1944 Mike and Bob Garbark both ended the season with a .261 batting average.   No brother combo since has finished the season with the exact same BA and that is why I'm looking forward to watching Justin and BJ Upton in Atlanta this season."

Kansas City Royals - Friday May 25th, June 22nd & July 20th: Ketchup, Mustard & Relish Bobblehead Giveaway
I don't know what it is about these 3 Bobbleheads that intrigues me so much, but if I lived in the Kansas City area I wouldn't hesitate to get all 3 of these for my collection.   They are obvious, but at the same time so delightfully random.  

If that isn't enough convincing you could add the Corky Miller bobblehead to the mix and have a very disturbing basis for a MLB/50 Shades of Gray cross over fan fic.

and lastly....

Northwest Arkansas Naturals - Saturday June 15th: Brian Poldberg Bobble-Mustache Giveaway (First 2000 Fans)
Bobble-Mustache?   Need I say more?

And that's it.  My 11 favorite Bobblehead Giveaways of 2013.   There are many more out there and I've organized them in this handy spreadsheet that you're welcome to download and use!  

Enjoy the peanuts, cracker jacks and bobble heads baseball fans.   Finally, baseball is back!